Last month at Oasis Festival in Morocco, I was given the opportunity to sit down and chat with BPitch Control label-boss & Circo Loco resident Ellen Allien. She's not your typical DJ/producer that travels the world playing clubs & festivals. She's a forward-thinking techno visionary who has produced multiple albums and runs her own record label out of Berlin, the aforementioned Bpitch Control, which has been going strong for 15 plus years. She's a tried and true tastemaker in the industry and we got a chance to talk with her about her vision of musical output, how she manages her own label and her early inspirations from Michael Jackson to Kraftwerk. She's a class act in the industry and her experience definitely shines through in her hypnotic DJ sets.
How did your set go here at Oasis?
I just wrapped it up and before I started I thought about what I was going to play. I was listening to the music being played here earlier on and I wasn't hearing any big or trendy tracks so based on that, I played some old stuff and some minimal house. Basically, I went on a journey with my set based on the concept I had in my head.
I heard you throw some acid in there too.
Yes, I threw some of that in there. I went towards a rougher sound that was a bit hard-constructed. This festival has a very good future but of course, there are a few improvements that could be made
Is this your first time in Morocco?
No, I was here for the first time about two years ago and I walked around the Medina here in Marrakesh. It's quite beautiful in regards to the detail on the buildings. More specifically the style of the tiles, the mosaic, and the Venetian plaster. I'm such a fan of the detail and the art of it.
Have you done any sight-seeing?
Yes, I went to the old city in the Medina. I did some sightseeing for a few days there. It was very intense and the city is quite old. The people in the streets sell items such as peppermint leaves, sheep's head, and of course, all of the beautiful handcrafted items. There are some very magical things to see here. Even the Coca-cola advertising had its own character.
How long are you here for?
We leave tomorrow, sadly. But I hope to come back next time. I really want to buy a carpet or something to put on my sofa, and a lamp too! Moroccan lamps are so beautiful especially the floor lamps. I will definitely come back soon to buy some stuff for my flat in Ibiza.
Ibiza is where you are headed next, right?
Yes, I'll be there on Monday to play at DC-10.
Overall, what do think of Oasis Festival?
First off I'm very happy if someone is pushing their dream of dance music
because it means that someone new is further developing the scene. The
creator of Oasis had this dream and brought it to her home country. If the
first edition of this festival does well then that is fantastic. Now let's
see where it goes next but overall I feel very good about it. It's a great
experience for people to come here because you can dance for a few days
and then stay for a few days to do some touring of the country as well.
I want to talk about your background with music for a bit. When were you first introduced to electronic music?
I think the first time was when I was really young and it was probably Michael Jackson and the pop music of America and the UK. It was just electronic music. Pop, but more specifically electronic pop. But I didn't understand the (English language) lyrics when I was a child so I think the first the musical lyrics I really understood was from Nina Hagen. My sister bought one of her records for my mother and I started listening to it every day after school. However, the first time I went out and danced at an actual nightclub was at a local teenage club in Berlin. They played all the stuff by Michael Jackson and anything else that was on the U.S. charts at the time. Then I discovered one track called "Das Modell" by Kraftwerk and this changed my life forever. I was able to understand the lyrics! Plus, the sound of it was so nice to my ears because it was cold and empty yet filled with so much bass. Then you have the odd lyrics about this model which was like a psychological trip in a way. This is my memory of when I discovered German minimalism and this is the electronic music that I would produce and play later on.
Would you consider Kraftwerk your biggest inspiration in music?
I would say that as a teenager, yes. Later on for DJ'ing it was more like Warp (Records), Detroit stuff like Juan Atkins, and of course Kraftwerk still. The kind of stuff that was easy to get in Germany and made there as
well. Music-wise, anything that was really the feeling of Berlin. Recently I listened to some of my old mixes and I was playing old electro/breaks and deep house with Detroit style music. When I compare my old music to now I thought it would be different but it's actually the same. I just DJ in a different in style, but the impact is still the same.
When you make music today, is there anyone that currently inspires you?
I love the rock band, Jungle. I love them because they incorporate pop lyrics with good songwriting. Plus they sing in the same tone as me so I love that I can sing along perfectly with it. Their music makes me feel
In my kind of music, I really like anything from the label, Perlon. However, I'm still really inspired by all the music I heard when I first started DJ'ing. I always reach back in the past to get the most inspiration.
From the UK, I'm very inspired by breakbeats & some of the dubstep.
All that spacey electronic stuff, I really love!
Can you describe the style of your music?
I'd have to say freak-house & hypnotic techno. It has to have hypnotic bass-lines and light melodies. Something that would turn your brain on and make your body want to dance.
Any plans for a new album anytime soon? You did one a couple of years ago, right?
My last album two years ago was LISm which was a soundtrack. I just put out a single so I don't really know when I will have another album coming out. I would like to start working on a new one later this year or early next year. I'll make music once I get back to Berlin and see how I feel. It depends on how I feel once I arrive there.
Your label has been going strong for 15 years and most labels last maybe two to three years tops. What do you think is the secret to the longevity of it?
My character is that once I start something, I keep on doing it. I don't really change the friends or things I like. I love the label. I love having a platform to work with artists and different graphic designers. Also, it's a part of Berlin. I was thinking about starting another label, but then I thought that it has to stay because it is a part of the city and we have 360 releases now. There are so many artists that became big because of Bpitch so there's a history.
So you've played all around the world. Where do you enjoy playing most?
I can't really say. I like to play different places and I enjoy playing different rooms playing to different people trying to find a solution to take everyone on a trip. I just played in Tokyo it was amazing, I played in Barcelona at Nitsa where I've had my residency for 12 years now. I can say that maybe Nitsa is one of my favorites clubs in the world. It's magic because they are very strict with the invite. Plus, they are always trying to change some aspect of the club.